The culture of repression connected to the gay rights movement has claimed another victim. This one is Peter Vidmar, a gold medal winning Olympic gymnast whose expression of an unapproved political opinion three years ago has cost him his job with the U.S. Olympic Committee. According to USA Today:
Olympic gold medalist Peter Vidmar, who last week was named chef de mission for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, abruptly resigned Friday after a firestorm of negative attention in the media and inside the U.S. Olympic Committee due to his 2008 actions against gay marriage.
As first reported by Outsports.com, and then in the Chicago Tribune, Vidmar participated in two anti-gay marriage demonstrations and donated $2,000 for the successful 2008 Proposition 8 ballot initiative in California defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The proposition overturned a California Supreme Court ruling that permitted same-sex marriage.
“Olympic gold medalist joins Rancho Prop 8 demonstration,” said The Orange County Register on Oct. 30, 2008, in which it quoted Vidmar as saying, “It’s good for our society to have a traditional definition of marriage.”
Vidmar said his opposition to same-sex marriage comes from his religious beliefs as a Mormon.
“The Church wanted to take a stand on the issue, and they invited their members to take a stand,” he told the Tribune. “I chose to be involved.”
And that’s where he screwed up. He was apparently unaware that the expression of certain political opinions that have nothing to do with sports is nonetheless forbidden by the powers that be. The result was the usual hysteria:
In U.S. Olympic circles, there was concern that Vidmar wasn’t just expressing his personal opinions on a controversial issue, but that he had moved into an activist role on an issue involving civil rights.
Right. He took part in a couple of demonstrations and gave money to a political action committee. That, to Olympians, makes him an “activist,” and thus radioactive. Of course, last time I checked, giving money to a cause and taking part in public demonstrations is the “expression of…political opinions,” but then I don’t have the finely tuned activist radar that the Olympians have.
When the Tribune story broke, reaction was nearly immediate — and almost entirely negative — within the USOC. Aimee Mullins, the former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and chef de mission for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Games team, said she was “concerned and deeply saddened” about Vidmar’s past actions.
“The Olympic movement is about promoting equity for all,” she said.
When, exactly, did the “Olympic movement” endorse same sex marriage? In fact, when did the “Olympic movement” become officially and punitively political at all? (I know the Olympics have always been liable to use for political purposes–for instance, the tit-for-tat boycotts in 1980 and 1984–but generally the Olympians have resisted identification with specific political causes.)
“Peter is respected the world-over for his dedication and commitment to the Olympic movement and is rightly considered one of America’s great Olympic champions,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “I believe Peter would have served our athletes well, but given the nature of this issue, I certainly respect his decision to resign. As we look toward London 2012 and the selection of Peter’s replacement, we’ll do so with the sole intent of showcasing America’s best and brightest stars and the inspirational story that each member of our Olympic team has to share.”
Wel, that and being sure that no one is on the team who is so crass as to allow unauthorized opinions to leak out to the public.
Informed by the Tribune of Vidmar’s position on the issue, Blackmun originally issued a statement reaffirming his selection:
“Peter is a tireless advocate for sport in this country and someone who has inspired many with his successes in the world of sport. That is why we chose him as our chef for the London Games. We respect Peter’s right to religious freedom, and we understand and respect he fact that many Americans do not share his views.”
Oh, but that was before he learned that Vidmar had morphed into an activist–at that point any notion of religious freedom, or free speech were out the window. It didn’t help that the bully brigade chimed in:
A day earlier, a well-known gay U.S. Olympian, figure skater Johnny Weir, told the Tribune that it was “disgraceful” to have a person with Vidmar’s views and actions in a position that makes him the symbolic head of a U.S. Olympic team.
“It’s wrong,” Weir said. “I certainly wouldn’t want to be represented by someone who is anti-gay marriage. It isn’t just about marriage, it is being allowed equal rights as Americans. The fact this man who is very publicly against something that may be represented on the American team is disgraceful.”
So that’s that. Either you’re for same sex marriage, or you’re off the American Olympic team. Dissent from the ruling sexual orthodoxy is not allowed. Welcome to the Age of Tolerance.